The Rose Factor: One in a Billion!

Bonnie Rose George and MomHow many 96-year-old women do you know? Perhaps one or two, at most. Would you believe me if I told you that I know one lady who is 96, is an incredible artist, lives by herself, drives her own car, and drives all of her friends around too? She looks absolutely fabulous and dresses immaculately in the latest styles. She goes to exercise class at least once a week, can be seen on the driving range 2-3 times a week, and currently holds a 19.6 handicap. She plays several city tournaments each year, competes in the WGAP Team Matches for Philmont and, since turning 90, has won many more matches than she’s lost.

I’m happy and very proud to tell you that this unique lady is my Mom, Louise B. Rose, known to most everyone as Bobbie Rose. Think about it. Born in 1916 during World War I -- Woodrow Wilson was President, and the Red Sox won the World Series behind a big left-hand pitcher named George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Boy, those were the days, before the roaring ‘20s, talkies and the  Great Depression.

Life was good for Mom, growing up way outside the city limits in far-out Cheltenham Township. Mom was a great athlete early  on, playing sports with her two big brothers, earning her the tomboy nickname “Bobbie.” She graduated from Cheltenham in  1934, gaining letters in four sports: hockey, basketball, swimming and softball. She moved on to Temple University, where she  garnered letters in five sports, adding tennis to the list. Her boyfriend in those days was Temple All-American quarterback Dave  Smuckler. Mom also excelled in badminton, where she was ranked #1 in the Middle Atlantic states. There wasn’t a sport or outdoor activity that she didn’t like or excel in.

The Factor and MomShe met my father in the late 1930s and was married soon thereafter. My sister was born in ’43, and after WWII I came along  during the Baby Boom in 1947. My parents enjoyed the outdoors, playing tennis most of the time. But after I was born they  decided to take up that “old man’s game,” and joined Ashbourne Country Club to learn how to play golf.

It didn’t take Mom long to get the hang of it. In the summer of 1947 Mom won Ashbourne’s Class D Club Championship, and in ’48, with a handicap now in single digits, won the Women’s Club Championship. Not just that year, but for the next 13 consecutive years. That last year, 1961, the family moved to Philmont Country Club, and Mom immediately won the championship there, along with Philmont’s inaugural Golf Key Invitational, a scratch event for Philly’s finest women golfers.

Over the years Mom took up bowling, where she averaged 180, with a top score of 224. She played tennis well into her 80s, doing most of the running in her doubles group, where the ladies were in their 50s and 60s. After my father died in 1974, Mom started her art career. She began by designing patterns for hook rugs and pillows, and did all the knitting herself. Then there was oil painting, calligraphy, wood carving, sculpting, working with copper, clay, driftwood ... you name it. Her house is like a museum of modern art. Our family photos are arranged on the walls in beautiful collages, and all the family news clippings from our golf events are kept in five scrapbooks, all handmade and painted by Mom.

As I mentioned, Mom still plays the game actively, and loves pounding balls on the range. But she’s still very competitive. When she turned 90 in 2006, Mom shot in the 80s five times and won the prestigious De Robey Tournament at Merion, partnering with my sister, Bonnie George. At the Women’s GAP annual meeting that year in December, Mom was surprised as she received the association’s highest honor, being presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only a few who’ve received this honor, among them legends Glenna Collett Vare, Helen Sigel Wilson and Dorothy Porter.

But Mom is looking forward, as she always does, having just ordered some new irons from Adams Golf. We might get her a new long putter, too; she wants to make more putts and shoot her age more often. Bonnie will play with Mom at the De Robey and the Mater Et Filia -- they’ve won that four times. She’ll play with me in the Griscom Cup. We’ve won it 11 times, and one more would really be sweet.

Mom’s looking forward to my daughter’s wedding in August, and she’ll also spend lots of time with her three great-grandchildren. Mom’s a pretty good cook, too, hosting our annual Passover, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We used to say she was 1 in a million, now more correctly, truly 1 in a billion. As our family friend Rodger Gottlieb likes to say, she’s the “8th Wonder of the World.” And as Mom is fond of saying about her golf game, with words that we can all live by, “This is gonna be my year!”


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